I’m pretty sure we’ve all experienced this. Close your eyes and think about that time you unraveled and untangled the hose and stretched it around the house to get to those pesky potted plants. However, just as you’re ready to start dousing the geraniums, there’s no water. You are certain that you turned the water on before making the trek. Your hose is kinked.
Kinks usually happen when a hose is twisted around objects like bushes, car tires, corners, etc. Older hoses, often those that are not carefully rolled up after use, tend to develop kinks more frequently. Eventually, if proper care isn’t taken, the hose just needs to be retired. Sent to the landfill. Or better yet, recycled. Aside from the fact that a kinked hose is very frustrating, it’s parallel to communication and leadership is uncanny.
Every one of us has people that rely on us to transmit information. As participants in our society, we all have a social contract of sorts to provide feedback, share news, and keep one another informed.
Friends, colleagues and partners that don’t share information are probably not highly regarded. They may make out ok when things are going well, but probably cannot be truly trusted when times get tough. The stakes are a lot higher for leaders, however.
Have you ever seen an organization that looks healthy and positive on the surface, but to insiders is toxic and depressing? More often than not, the problems don’t stem from a poor vision, lack of resources or avoidance of hard work. Usually, the problem, or at least the possible solution, centers squarely on communication.
For leaders, strong communication skills are critical. Communication habits can make or break a leader, and even worse, their team. If there’s a kink in the hose–that is, if important information, decisions and directives are not transmitted to everyone in the organization–then the same information (and the leader) is useless.
[Side bar – The use of the term “leader” can be interchangeable with anyone in a customer service role and at any level of the organization.]
The good news is that consistent and effective communication practices can cure a lot of organizational problems. And like hoses, kinks in communication can be easily tended to. Leaders who take care to ensure that communication flows to and from them consistently can prevent kinks from occurring in the first place.